Thankful for Adventure

Despite a belly full of turkey and the holiday cheer abuzz, this Thanksgiving left me feeling battered and unsupported.  The very people that are supposed to be build me up, support me no matter what, did not seem to understand the task I had set for myself.  I was determined to complete it, regardless of the opposition I received.

It was all very simple, as most of my ideas are.  I was going to #OptOutside by pointing the nose of my paddleboard to an oil rig off the coast of Bolivar Peninsula and 2.5 miles later I would arrive at my destination.  I floated (get it?) the idea to my friends and family and they all asked “Why?”.  “Why are you doing this?  Is it to get attention?  You know this is a stupid idea, right?”  But you see, in my mind, it is not a stupid idea, it is a challenge.  This is a perfect example of how I like to challenge myself in obscure ways.  Of course I know there are dangers involved, which is why I’ve been tracking the weather for the past two weeks and delayed the idea a few months ago.  Of course I know I could be attacked by a shark, and if that happens, I’m perfectly okay with the outcome because I will be doing something that I love: learning more about myself.  I also knew that the chances of me getting attacked by a shark are ridiculously small and that was not going to stop me.  Fun fact: there are 16 shark attacks per year in the United States and 0.5 fatalities per year, so it was literally impossible for me to fully die out there.

While I appreciate the support I receive through social media, the main reason for these adventures is to find out more about myself.  I am able to create new ideas, and contemplate what I am doing with my life, whether that is in the present moment or the future.  I have been blessed with athleticism, balance, and coordination, but these challenges severely test my mental capacity.  Trying to keep my mind in order is the real test.

Not too long ago, I committed to training for a marathon.  I will explain the difference between committing to training and committing to a race later, but the point being, I’ve been running more.  I remember stepping up to my first lap around White Rock Lake – nine miles.  I was pretty amped because I had never run that far and it would be quite an accomplishment for me.  With the help of my buddy Matt, I was able to put up a respectable time.  I’ve since run a few more laps around the lake and I do not think I have ever run faster than that first time, despite putting countless more training miles in.  Physically, I should be able to run much faster, but is my mind putting up its own barrier? Why does my mind work like this?  Why do I perform better when I do not know exactly what the task ahead holds?

Back to the mission at hand, or Mind in Boat, as I like to say.  My family had dinner at Jimmy’s Pier in Galveston Thanksgiving night.  The restaurant sits above the water with great views of the Gulf of Mexico.  After we ordered, I wandered out onto the fishing pier to listen to the soothing waves passing underneath.  I was focused on the future assignment and was looking for any signs that nature would give me.  The wind was relatively calm and waves small and consistent.  Nothing jumped out at me that would create a “no-go” situation, so after dinner I took off to Bolivar Peninsula in my Subaru.  I waited for a while for the ferry, and after leaving the dock, I exited my car and made my way to the elevated platform.  I looked out onto the bow, the cold wind blowing straight into my face.  I continued to study the waves and patterns that the water created, but collected no new information.  After exiting the ferry, I cruised a few miles and turned right onto Kahla Drive.  At the corner of the intersection, there was a water tower, which would serve as a perfect reference landmark for my excursion the following day.  I drove onto the beach, setup camp in my car, and read a few pages of “Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do.”  It was a perfect end to the night.

I woke up to the morning light pouring through the windows of my car, just a few minutes before my alarm was supposed to go off.  I looked out my back window to see the oil rig off in the distance.  It had a mysterious blue color, like a mountain would off in the distance.  I listened to Sleep on the Floor by The Lumineers before getting ready, which might be the new theme song to my life.  Check out the music video here.  I prepped my body, board, and mind, and applied a compass to my board, which turned out to be a great investment.  After checking in with the sheriff just a few yards down the beach to make sure my car would not be towed for not having a permit, I entered the water.  The waves were small, but the wind was blowing from the southwest, which was a slight crosswind for my intended south direction.  I had to paddle solely on the right side to overcome the force of the wind and stay on track.  After getting past the break, I was on my way.  I quickly discovered that every so often, two swells would come directly from the east, which made for a fun maneuver on the paddleboard.  I began to second guess myself and this adventure, but I knew if I overcame the first 20 to 30 minutes, my mind would focus and my body would settle in.  Eventually I found a rhythm and every section of waves was just like the last.  I did not let my mind wander as to what might be beneath me, or how deep the water might be getting.  I kept my board pointed just east of the oil rig, to accommodate for the wind.  Slowly but surely, the oil rig began to change color from mysterious blue to defined red and tan.  I was getting closer.  As I was reaching the “summit” of the paddle, I looked to the southwest and saw a boat that seemed to have Coast Guard colors.  I decided to stop paddling as they were heading straight for me, but since I was focused on the boat and not my balance, I took a dip into the ocean and consequently lost my hat.  I quickly made my way back onto the board as the boat came alongside me.  Sure enough, it was the Coast Guard and I heard them talk amongst each other to get me onboard and find a blanket for me.  I quickly declined, as they told me that someone had been watching from the shore and said I was flailing my arms and getting pushed further and further offshore.  I informed them that that was not the case and I just had not made it to the oil rig yet.  They accepted my reasoning and left me with “Well, if you are in trouble, just flail your arms around, because apparently someone is watching.”  After a few more paddle strokes and a picture to document that I made it, I turned around and set my compass for the water tower.  Overall, the paddle took about two hours, but it felt much longer.

Despite the opposition I received, I had conquered my #OptOutside goal.  I turned on my Blue Mind and set sail for what others thought was unobtainable.  How do you know what cannot be obtained if you do not try?  Do not be afraid to try something different.  You might be surprised at what you can accomplish, even when your mind is telling you no.


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One thought on “Thankful for Adventure

  1. the universe works in mysterious ways. i’m tending to lean towards the thought that your family comments played a bigger role in this adventure that you think. what if they would have been full blown steam ahead in supporting you – in what ways would your own drive and focus have changed in order to get to the perfect mindset or persistence to make it to that oil rig? in some ways, life gives us exactly the fuel we need to get through something extra*ordinary.

    and – it’s kind of neat that in all of that – while paddling towards the end of the horizon in your own adventure – someone is always looking out for you, even though you have no idea who.

    Liked by 1 person

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